AUSTIN, Texas --
Facing increasing competition for natural, organic and gourmet food shoppers, Whole Foods Market hopes to reaccelerate its growth by expanding services and optimizing market penetration with smaller-format stores, among other initiatives, according to a report issued by Goldman Sachs. The investment bank‘s analysts gave Whole Foods‘ stock a neutral rating after assessing recent conference calls and touring several of the chains newest stores with Walter Robb, the company‘s co-president and chief operating officer. Several new store features were singled out for praise, including an enhanced “Whole Body” department in the company‘s Los Altos, Calif., store, and several prepared food innovations at the company‘s newest Dallas location, including a fresh juice bar, a taffy puller, a cotton candy spinner and an in-store barbecue pit. The Dallas store also includes a day spa -- an initial entry into high-end services for the company that, if successful, may lead to the addition of other in-store services such as herbal pharmacists and homeopathic specialists, the report predicted. Robb also said that Whole Foods will introduce improvements to its meat supply chain in the near future, possibly indicating an expansion of the company‘s vertically aligned, source-verified meat purchasing programs.